The skills and aptitudes freelance editors need

If you’re interested in learning how to become a freelance book editor, you’re probably wondering what kind of person thrives in the environment—what kind of skills and aptitudes are needed.

Freelance editors have some characteristics in common. For one thing, they’re self-starters: no one is going to be watching over your shoulder to see whether you’re marketing or just watching YouTube videos. And it helps if you’re organized and have the ability to focus for long periods of time.

You have to love words and stories but you can’t be wedded to being “right.” In developmental editing, unlike copyediting, there is no right answer. There are recommendations we can make that will help authors get closer to telling the story they want to tell, but these are never more than that: recommendations. You have to be comfortable with having your advice rejected as often as not.

This is not a job where you get to indulge your pet peeves about writers who use “different than” instead of “different from.”

We are not gate-keepers: as freelancers we are partners in our clients’ journeys, supporters and cheerleaders, but we are not the ones who make a final judgment about what gets published and what does not, or what succeeds and what fails.

You have to enjoy nurturing other people’s creativity and staying out of the limelight yourself.

Dip your toe into editorial waters with the self-paced Naked Editing and the instructor-led Beginning and Intermediate Developmental Editing of Fiction.

Earning the Club Ed Certificate in the Developmental Editing of Fiction can be a good way to reassure yourself (and your clients) that you’ve received sufficient training in developmental editing.

Join the Club!

how to become an editor

New to story editing? Begin at the beginning.

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